During your senior year of high school, I’m willing to guess you got asked these three questions at least 100 times:
- What do you plan on doing after graduation?
- Where are you going to school?
- What’s your major?
It can feel like those three questions begin to define your college experience before you even arrive on campus. My first piece of advice is to avoid obsessing over the answers you give to people when these questions come up. Your future plans and major will most likely change- and that’s just part of the process!
Is this a permanent or temporary move to Lexington?
Overall, keep in mind whether your journey to Lexington is your big break away from home or if you plan on finding a job in your hometown after graduation.
Consider your interests and how they will affect your future location. If you love the feel of a rural town, you’ll have to put in effort searching for an interior design job in that kind of area. Likewise, a career path in Plant and Soil Sciences isn’t going to be relevant in an extremely urban area. Where do you see yourself living in the future? The best way to ensure you end up there is to explore careers that have ample opportunities in those areas.
You already scheduled for classes, but it’s also a good time to go ahead and think about the other things you want to do on campus. Ask yourself what interests are you going to continue from high school and what organizations does UK have that your high school didn’t? Explore them!
You can use extracurricular organizations to supplement your potential degree programs. Many of these student-centered clubs provide additional volunteer opportunities and sponsor guest speakers from the academic field they are geared towards. In addition, job shadowing is an invaluable experience to have as early as possible. First hand experience in the job environment can help you steer clear of a particular field or add to your excitement for your future career!
Use Your University
You’ll network with so many new people every day that one of them is bound to be studying something that perks your interest. Actively seek advice from the people around you as a way of discovering what programs are available. College is about studying subjects that intrigue you, not just a required curriculum designed by someone else.
Take the UK Core classes you are enrolled in seriously. Develop relationships your professors, because they are experts on employment opportunities specific to their fields of study. Decide if a follow-up course would be worth exploring, especially for the classes that you really enjoy. Your academic advisors and the James W. Stuckert Career Center specialize in guiding you future goals. Play to your strengths and honestly assess what skills you have to further develop.
Look Beyond Income
Don’t be preoccupied by an income number associated with a particular degree program. The biggest predictor of success is genuinely enjoying your career. Years of organic chemistry classes and demanding residency will give you a six-figure salary, but it may not provide you with the creative outlet you’ve always loved. If dollar signs are calling your name, being an established professional is something you can accomplish in any field. Keep this cliché adage in mind as you search for a good fit: “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” Income is secondary to finding a curriculum, and eventually a career, that fits you.
My biggest advice is to not rush into declaring a major. You have plenty of time. If you’re feeling indecisive about committing to a degree, be honest about it. Select a program when you’re ready, but understand it doesn’t bind you for life! You can change your major if you find have a change in career goals. Ask for help and use these tips to establishing yourself without a definite degree!